Despite being a conference champion, Indianola entered Monday’s Class 4-A substate semifinal with no player carrying a batting average higher than .333.
“We don’t have anybody that just stings the ball game in and game out,’’ Indians coach Casey Aldridge said.
However, the Indianola coach said his club does have the ability to string together quality at-bats, and that’s what happened on Monday. The Indians made Lewis Central starter Jordan Wardlow strain through 70 pitches in three innings, and they jumped on the Titans’ bullpen in an 8-1 victory at the L.C. diamond.
“These guys have had the approach all season where they’re just going there and try to have good at-bats,’’ Aldridge sasid. “We just happened to get their first guy deep into counts and then got to the bullpen.’’
Indianola, the Little Hawkeye Conference champ, improved to 24-14 and will play at No. 1 Johnston (33-5) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. for a trip to the state tournament.
Lewis Central, the Hawkeye Ten Conference champ, closed at 23-14.
It was a frustrating night for the Titans, who managed just three hits off junior Tyce Johnson, who went the distance and allowed just one hit after the first inning.
“I think we quit being aggressive,’’ L.C. coach Lee Toole said. “We had three hits and three errors. You’re not going to win very many games that way at this point in the tournament.’’
When Wardlow gave way to Tyler Huttmann entering the fourth inning, L.C. was still in prime contention, trailing 2-1. But Joey Bylund singled and Seth Chittenden walked, and then Quinn Vesey beat out a bunt single to load the bases with no outs. Aidan Freshly stroked a two-run single, and then Johnson and Kael Kolarik plated runs on groundouts to the shortstop to push the lead to 6-1.
Indianola added insurance runs in the fifth and seventh, which was more than enough for Johnson, who struck out seven while walking two and hitting two.
Jonah Pomrenke singled and scored L.C.’s lone run in the first on Wardlow’s double.
Toole tried to force his players to look at the positive things they achieved this year.
“I said, ‘I know this hurts and this is tough to leave in this situation, but you got a conference championship that no one expected us to get,’’’ he said. “A city championship, which no one expected us to sweep the city schools. A nice winning record. We beat some good people this year.
“Things look bright for the future. It’s how much time do they want to put in in the offseason, and what do they want to do to get better?’’
Indianola (24-14) 002 410 1—8 9 0
Lewis Central (23-14) 100 000 0—1 3 3
W: Tyce Johnson. L: Jordan Wardlow. 2B: I, Aidan Freshly, Cam Williams 2; LC, Wardlow.
Harlan 5, Winterset 2
HARLAN — Connor Bruck pitched the distance and Harlan Community broke open a 1-1 game with two runs in the fifth and two in the sixth to beat Winterset 5-2 in a Class 3-A district final on Monday night.
The fifth-rated Cyclones (26-7) advance to Wednesday’s 7 p.m. substate final against upstart ADM (13-16), which knocked off Dallas Center-Grimes 3-1.
Clinging to a 3-2 lead in the sixth, Joey Moser’s RBI single made it a two-run game, and Brett Sears followed with an infield hit that scored Moser from second to push it to 5-2.
Moser finished with two hits for the Cyclones, while Bruck, Isaiah Ahrenholtz and Riley Kohles also drove in runs. Bruck struck out three and walked five.
Harlan, which has appeared in the last four 3-A state championship games, is seeking its ninth consecutive state appearance.
Winterset (21-8) 001 001 0—2 4 0
Harlan (26-7) 010 022 x—5 5 1
W: Connor Bruck. L: Casey Young. 2B: W, Easton Darling; H, Bruck.